St. Charles East head coach Pat Woods starts his second season with Division I recruit Dom Adduci (14 points per game last year) back in the starting lineup. A shoulder injury to Purdue recruit Kendall Stephens, who led the team in scoring with 17.5 points per game last season, has his status up in the air.
But having one or two college recruits on the roster isn’t all that has Woods looking forward to the winter. “We have a lot coming back,” Woods said. “It’s nice coming back to that; that’s for sure.”
Post players Dave Mason and Dan Wilkerson are back, as is guard Ethan Griffiths and swing player Ben Skoog. With Cole Gentry and A.J. Washington arriving from the sophomore team, Woods sees a group that can be just as competitive as last year’s squad.
“I think we’ll be a pretty versatile team. Our depth is great,” Woods said. “We expect a successful year and we’re going to work hard to achieve that.”
Stephens, if healthy, is sure to draw plenty of attention from opposing defenses, and Adduci will be on everyone’s radar from the opening tip. The good news is the Saints know it and can prepare to spread the ball around.
“We expected Kendall to get that attention last year, and he still did well,” Woods said. “As coaches, we just have to be creative in the ways we get (Kendall and Dom) the ball in the situations we want them to have the ball.”
If Adduci and Stephens are handcuffed, the Saints can distribute the scoring. After a year of seasoning, Mason should be well-prepared for the battles that will take place in the paint. Gentry’s athleticism will complement Adduci’s, and Woods raved about Washington’s rebounding ability and athleticism around the basket.
The Saints will be tested right off the bat at their own Thanksgiving tournament where St. Joseph, Schaumburg, St. Charles North and Plainfield East are in the field. East has also upgraded its holiday tournament, switching to the highly regarded Proviso West tourney, which is thought to be one of the best in the state. Playing a tough schedule doesn’t alter the goals.
“Our goals are always the same: to win conference and win state,” Woods said. “My goal as a coach is I want to win, and I think the guys are right there with me.”
At a glance
COACH Pat Woods2011-12 RECORD 15-13TOP PLAYERS Dom Adduci jr. G Cole Gentry so. G Ethan Griffiths sr. G Ben Skoog sr. F Dave Mason jr. C Kendall Stephens sr. G A.J. Washington jr. F Dan Wilkerson sr. F
57-52 Score by which the Saints fell to Elgin in the regional championship game last winter. Purdue recruit Kendall Stephens scored a team-high 24 points in the game.
FIRST GAME 5:45 p.m. Monday vs. TBA at St. Charles East Thanksgiving invite